Acid reflux is a condition caused by the rushing back of food and acid from the stomach into the esophagus. Normally, a band of muscles known as the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) contract to prevent contents of the stomach from coming back up into the esophagus. A weak LES can relax at the wrong time, allowing the acid and food being digested in the stomach to rise up into the esophagus. The LES can become weak due to several reasons – chocolate, nicotine, alcohol, stress, etc. Certain medications, such as antibiotics, can also trigger this relaxation.
How Antibiotics Lead to Acid Reflux?
We all know that antibiotics are drugs used for treating bacterial infections in the body. The gastrointestinal tract (GI) has a combination of symbiotic and beneficial bacteria called probiotics as well as potentially infective bacteria. Good bacteria keep the growth of bad bacteria in check. Unfortunately, antibiotics are not able to differentiate between the good and bad bacteria present in the gut. They kill the probiotic bacterial population as well. This leads to an imbalance in the intestinal ecosystem and an overgrowth of bad bacteria that produce a lot of gas. The pressure within the stomach increases because of the gases. This pressure forces the LES to relax to release the gases out of the body. And as seen above, a relaxed LES causes food and acid to ride back up the pipe.
That’s why, taking antibiotics with food may lead to discomfort and irritation in the stomach. Tetracycline is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is used to treat a host of infections, such as acne, cholera, malaria and syphilis. It has been shown to cause acid reflux. Doctors recommend a judicious use of antibiotics to limit their harmful side effects.
Rebuilding gut bacteria is highly important for cutting through the negative effects of using antibiotics. Adding probiotics to your diet can help in reducing the symptoms of acid reflux.